Are Seniors Being Over-Prescribed Medications?

November 25, 2019
medications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease in the US accounts for one in every four deaths or about 610,000 people. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. And yet, mcknightsseniorliving.com is reporting that in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease deaths have increased by 123 percent while deaths from heart disease have decreased by 11 percent. Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth-leading cause of death in the US, and one of every three seniors dies with some form of dementia. These numbers should give the government, and the health care industry pause as the silver tsunami of baby boomers continues into retirement. Current projections of Alzheimer’s disease-associated costs could be as much as 1.1 trillion dollars.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and there is little hope for a near term solution. One bright spot on the horizon is the application of precision medicine. Precision medicine essentially drops the “one-size” fits all treatment model. Instead, it customizes health solutions based on each individual’s unique situation using technology. This precision approach is increasingly moving into real-world clinical settings and meeting with success. The components of medical data needed for input include a patient’s genome, bio-specimens, medications, medical history, demographics, diet, and lifestyle. All of these elements play a role in the customization of a precision medicine health plan.

One company practicing precision medicine is uMethod. At umethod.com there is a program called RestoreU METHOD that blends diagnostic tests, cognitive assessment, and lifestyle review information and then tailors a specific plan for each patient. These patients are specifically suffering from mild cognitive impairment, mild dementia, or mild Alzheimer’s disease. A personalized precision medical plan leads to better outcomes for patients. Data from RestoreU Method Health’s clinical efforts are reporting a very promising 76 percent improvement of memory or at least a cessation of the patient’s decline in memory.

One analysis by uMethod studies indicates that participants were on average, taking 15 drugs (not related to Alzheimer’s). Many of those drugs were contributory factors to the patient’s cognitive decline. The technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), proved far better at identifying issues and adjusting medications accordingly. AI is faster and more accurate at identifying drug to drug and drug to genome interactions that may worsen symptoms of Alzheimer’s. A potential drug interaction is when two medications known to interact are concurrently prescribed whether or not an adverse event occurs. These drug interactions may very well provoke life-threatening consequences, especially in the case of an elderly, frail patient. Because many seniors have co-morbidities the risk of an adverse drug reaction (ADR) is substantially increased. Over the past decade, the use of multi-drug regimes among the elderly has risen tremendously, and thus, the increased need for technology to be able to assess their complex interactions reliably.

Processing big data about patients allows AI to apply medical knowledge to specific criteria and thoroughly and quickly present an array of medical solutions and plans. These plans are highly detailed for the attending physician but are simplified for the patient. As a patient’s symptoms change over time, updated data can be input, and AI can recommend therapy changes that best address a patient’s dementia issues.

Developing treatments and possible drug cures for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are going to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future. Multiple prescription medication interactions may be causing more harm than good to patients as the incidence of Alzheimer’s related deaths continues to increase at an alarming rate. What are your strategies in the event you become diagnosed with cognition problems that may lead to some form of dementia? Typically, dementias have a long pre-clinical phase followed by mild, medium, and severe category assessments. Medical directives that are specifically designed to address dementia issues are available. Check into precision medicine and how it might become part of a dementia directive you would like to have.

Contact any of our five offices today by calling (443) 393-7696 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.